Get free weekly resources from us!
Got it! Would you also like offers and promos from Group?
Thanks, you're all set!
Read in
2 mins

When Parents Don’t Like Who’s in Your Youth Group

Parents worry about their kids. It’s their job! As a parent, I totally get this. One of the biggest things I worry about is who my son is hanging out with and what kind of friends he’s choosing. I don’t just pay attention to this when he wants to hang with friends from school. I pay attention to this when I drop him off at youth group as well. I want to know he is going to be around good kids who are making good choices and growing up the way I hope my son is growing up, respectful of others, kind, and loving.

My own parenting journey makes it easier for me to relate to parents who feel threatened when youth ministry attracts kids they wouldn’t necessarily hand pick for their own kids to be around. But the church has a mission. We are called to reach out to people and introduce them to Jesus. We have to stop worrying so much about the negative impact young believers or unbelievers will have on us, and start considering the positive and eternal impact we can have with the help and through the love of God.

If you have parents who are really concerned about certain kids in your youth ministry having a negative impact on their kid, here are some next steps you might consider taking:

Always invite concerned parents to youth group. When parents complain about a certain student being a negative influence,  invite them to come and experience youth group. Why not? Being at youth group for a full program night will give these parents a better sense of what is happening or not happening while their student is at youth group.

Schedule a meeting. You want to have enough time with parents to understand their concerns and to share the vision and the structure of the youth ministry. Invite them out for coffee or ask them to meet you at the church. Just gain some time with these parents. When you gain time, you gain trust.

Introduce them to the student they are concerned about. If possible and if it’s not completely awkward for the student, introduce the student and the concerned parent to each other. Before you make introductions, give the parent a little bit of history about the student. Give them the opportunity to know this student and to gain compassion for a student other than their own.

Supporting parents in youth ministry is one of the hardest parts of our job, especially when they complain about other students. Take it all to God in prayer. He is with you. Do what you’re called to do. Love and invest in students, even when they worry other parents.

We’re for you, cheering for you and praying for you as you minister to all kinds of students and all kinds of parents this week.bold_parenting


Consider supporting parents by giving them Bold Parenting or other great resources made just for parents of teenagers from Simply Youth Ministry. 

9 thoughts on “When Parents Don’t Like Who’s in Your Youth Group

  1. What do you do when you (the youth director) is concerned over the influence a particular student is having that is not positive? We had a girl when came from a questionable background (parents divorced, mom living with another man). She was very verbal. Her answer to most questions was “Hot Men.” She saw nothing wrong with this, nor other behavior. I felt like I was beating my head against a wall. She simply would not listen to anything positive I had to say.
    Unfortunately we had a misunderstanding and she quit youth group and will not even talk to me.
    I know that she was the student that needed youth group the most, but I felt very ill equipped to handle her and her actions.

    • If someone will not listen, then they may not really be benefiting from being involved. And if they are being distracting, they may be having a negative impact on others ability to benefit. I think we can be open to having all types of kids attend but also have expectations or groundrules that we ask teens to follow to make the time beneficial for everyone. We can have grace and patience as we ask them to follow the ground rules (and explain the importance), but if they don’t want to respect you or the group, then are we really helping them or others by having them be there?

      Jesus modeled being a friend to sinners. But he came to seek and save them. The goal is to help them see their need for Jesus’ salvation and a right relationship with God.

      I wonder if the best thing to do in your case would be to pray for her and see if a way would come for you or someone else to minister and connect with her in a meaningful way outside of youth group. And, then if she is receptive, perhaps she could plug back into youth group at some point.

    • Theresa Mazza

      Lisa this is a great question and concern. Christian has a lot good points.
      I’m so sorry there was a misunderstanding between you and this student. You are right, we want student’s who need Jesus to come to youth group. But that doesn’t always mean that youth group is what they need most. Youth group can be a place where they are accepted and loved. But they might have needs that aren’t met at youth group. Here’s the part I love. Any time a student graces youth group with their presence you have a chance to engage and evaluate there needs. As a church we aren’t just trying to gain well behaved students. Hopefully our heart is to serve people, meet their needs, and introduce them to Jesus through amazing acts of love. During the time this student was attending I’m sure you recognized some needs. Maybe one frustration is that you feel she didn’t stay involved long enough for those needs to be addressed. But we can’t always address a students needs during youth group or youth programs. Some students need one on one mentoring much more than they need youth group. Or they need youth group to be paired with mentoring. One question that might be great for you to think about: When you have a student who has needs beyond your training, who do you go to? Having a list of resources and partners you can refer students and parents to is great. But these people can also help you understand the needs of students better and help you have more fruitful interactions with them. I rely heavily on a few friends in the counseling field.

  2. John Mulholland


    I’ve dealt with this issue in 2 of 3 ministries- I’m so thankful that you made your response a simple “gospel matter.” While I understand the fear and questions that parents express, this gets to the heart of Jesus.

    And I rarely had success in getting parents to understand- mostly, they just left for the “safer” church and ministry down the road.

    Thanks for writing it.

    • Theresa Mazza

      Thanks John. I’d venture to say, although no one likes when parents pull a student from youth group, that if they are leaving for a safer ministry environment, they have a pretty solid support system at home. That is wonderful. The kids we need to reach usually don’t have a solid support system and they don’t have their pick of youth groups to go to. So I pray we find these kids in our churches!!!!!

  3. Bible Missionary

    I have observed 2 issues with trouble youth within the church fellowship —

    1) Generic misbehavior or attitudes.

    2) Sexual identity concerns.

    Both matters require different approaches. The sexual ID crisis casues me the most concern for younger, vulnerable children in the congregation who become targets and are “groomed”.

    We are to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Matthew 10:16

  4. I am currently dealing with something like this in my ministry and I need some help. I have a parent who is very protective of their daughter. A situation happened where the mother decided that youth group may not be a safe place for her daughter because of a student that she sees as a negative influence. The mother has met the student that she sees as being a negative influence. We have talked about her rules and expectations (her 2 sons still attend our youth group). And she has sat in on our youth group before to see what we talk about and how our ministry runs.

    Currently, she is not allowing her daughter to come to youth group despite all of these approaches. I am on 25 and not a parent so I can’t comment on her parenting, but at the same time I feel like she is doing something wrong. I have talked with my Sr Pastor about this as well as my mentor in youth ministry and one thinks I should say something and the other thinks I should see how it plays out in the long run. Does anybody have any insight into how I should handle this?


  5. Hi Theresa,

    Thanks for your article. I particularly liked how you said this, “We are called to reach out to people and introduce them to Jesus. We have to stop worrying so much about the negative impact young believers or unbelievers will have on us, and start considering the positive and eternal impact we can have with the help and through the love of God.” Because in reality that is what we are doing in youth ministry doing. Meeting the teenagers where they are at, showing them Jesus.

    I’m ministering to youth in Sydney, both in public schools and at church. One thing that came to my mind when I read your article was a time when a big group of public school teenagers came to the youth group for the first time. The youth who attended regularly found it really hard to engage with this group of boys who acted so differently to them. It was a real goal of mine that night to speak to each of the regulars and encourage them not to back away from the opportunity to witness to this group of non-believers, in our church walls.

    I know that it can be intimidating for parents to think of their children mixing with other children who don’t have the same values, as they do, but it is really such a blessing. I think your three points were really helpful and agree that we should be encouraging both the youth and the parents to be more prayerful and active in this area 🙂

    In Christ,

    Mitch Hamilton

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

When Parents Don’t Like Who’s in Your...

Get free weekly resources from us!
Get free weekly resources from us!
Got it! Would you also like offers and promos from Group?
Thanks, you're all set!